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my final journey in africa 2010, and now back to the USA

USA | Tuesday, 24 August 2010 | Views [632]

for nearly 2 weeks i worked with the orphan kiddos making amazing crafts mostly beads. they were fascinated by the meditation they reached as they strung bright beads onto string and metal in order to create masterpeice accessories. i attempted to teach them about the color design and they really got the hang of it as they began creating genius patterns. the kids were going to school each day and upon arriving at the compound they would run into my room requesting a new project. some nights i could barely get them to leave for dinner and later to go to sleep. i caved in a few times and allowed them to sneak in as i was really inspired by their desire to create art...forget the rules!

when the kids were gone during the day i worked a bit on the project of the window treatments. the study room was completely fixed with screen windows and doors and the girls dorm room was also treated with screens and emediately we could see the reduction of the mosquitos in the room.


now at the end of my stay at kin we had a few celebrations. i decided to make pancakes which the kids were so excited for. i also got each one of them pencils and stickers and they were all allowed to create jewelry for themselves to keep. that night we sat around playing checkers where the kids really beat me with skill even though it was their first lesson in the sport. near the end of the night i got tired but couldnt bring myself to kick the kids out as they laughed and giggled playing board games. even i couldnt stop giggling as their contagious nature spread through my blood with high sensations. we stayed up til 1am and i finally had to tell them to go rest til the morning. the next day they escorted me to the vehicled where i enjoyed my last bumpy ride through kampala town. on the bus we spend an extra 4hours to get to nairobi kenya as we had to switch busses 3times and got stuck at boarder checks where security was on high demand due to the recent bomb attacks. finally i arrived at nairobi and couldnt wait to lay in the home of my kenyan brothers on Obama street.


my final project took me across the slum neighborhood of mwiki across streams where i shared a walking path with a large cow and climbed the steep slope of a grassy accacia bush field. i finally arrived at the home P Filemon, the conogolese refugee representative.

i was greeted and welcomed into the room where over 20 men women and kids sat in a circle creating the woven hand bags that we helped donate supplies for. we were able to provide enough supplies for nearly 40bags and the artisans couldnt be more satisfied and excited about their new business venture. they continually appologized for their so called burden they had put on me and also they had wished they had money to give me for helping them,,,i wanted to laugh out loud at the proposterous idea of paying a volunteer but i held it in as i could see their seriousness. they truly felt sorry that i had to be burdened by their plight and i felt so opposite to this as i felt blessed by their friendship and familyhood we created. i sat amongst them as i watched and listened to their skilled fingers weaving the crafts and their voices rang out with melodies in their mother tounge preaching of friendship kindness and compassion. i was even so blessed by my final name they gifted to me before i left that day. they now take me in as their daughter and sister and call me "mbabazi" pronounced babaz which is the term for compassionate people in their community. i was brought to tears as they hugged me and comforted me in their home.

we sat sharing stories about our lives and our families and i got to know each one of them a bit more. i even experienced the sadness that existed from some members who suffered greatly during their fleeing from the congo. with 15 families present, there were at least 100 children total belonging to the group. 2 women were actually housing 15 kids each in their homes where the majority were orphans. another woman apparently had 8 kids of her own and belonged to a large family of high wealth and status in their community. but during the battles and raids the congolese rebels came in and wiped out her entire family, extended family, and friends as they wanted to keep all their wealth and erase their lineage. she escaped the gunfire with only 2 remaining children and no friends or family members. i was able to meet with some of the children who were now also creating the woven bags as they wanted to help their families pay for food and school fees which i found truly beautiful as they were so excited to take part in the project.

before leaving we had a large circle gathering where they sang and finally ended in prayer. first the leader instructed everyone to hold hands and out loud where we all said our own personal prayers. as everyone started to speak out loud all at once in different prayers in their mother tongue i was overwhelmed by a rush of high bliss hearing the singing hearts of my congo family. the chatter was gloriously loud and lasted for nearly 5minutes. i opened my eyes to find most of the group crying both in sadness for their lives and also in joy for the hope they were seeing. translated i found out that most members were saying thankyou for the compassion they were seeing from such a young human being, they asked for my life to be blessed by safety as i flew accross to the states, and they also spoke of the glory they knew was to come to their lives through this project of art. i felt so amazing as i saw the contrast of the struggling life of these refugees splashed upon a canvas of love and acceptance of their situation. their inspiration and will for life has kept them alive while believing in the hand of god. i left now so filled with dedication to help this group and i felt so blessed with their willingness to take part in my lifes journey as well.

next day i hopped my flight and headed first to ethiopia. things were going great until we were about to board the flight to washington DC. we were delayed 4hours due to a broken toilet on the plane. i was wishing we could all just take the typical african style and poop in a bucket instead of needing the toilet, haha...out of the question of course but i was down for it if only we could board our flight. i was impressed by the nature of passengers. nearly 200 of us had to sit around in the cold lobby waitin for news of the repaired plane. people were very calm and quiet as they sat around talking and laughing and feeling mostly unbothered by the situation. i had to laugh at the contrast i knew that this would pose if it were to happen in america. we were all so excited to be able to finally get on our flight and i was anxious to see the soil of north america again.


flying over pennsylvania i experienced my first culture shock as i realized homes were in subdivision style communities and organized in blocks. houses were far from unique and splayed identical styled lawns and roof tops. the roads made me blink twice as i saw organization and order filled with SUVs and luxury vehicles. but i smiled as i was comforted by the familiarity of the situation. finally in oregon i jumped into the arms of my parents and headed to luggage claims where i found out my bags were lost. luckily i was less concerned with my belongings and more concerned with sleep....


my process isnt over as i now have to figure out how to be the best volunteer coordinator i can be and how to raise money for the groups i have met along the journey. i am still adjusting to the life back here but am finding that one of the best lessons i have gained, is that beauty really does exist in all forms and in all places. america is beautiful, africa is beautiful, even tragedies in life create beauty. and this is the most valuable lesson i could have asked for.

i miss africa and im going back in august 2011 to continue projects and i will be taking volunteers and travellers with me. if anyone is interested in coming, you can contact me at [email protected] we will be doing fund raising for people wanting to volunteer to help alleviate cost of travel and such so please get involved and be a part of the magic.

much love to all those who have helped bring inspiration and glorious love to those i have met along my way. i never travelled alone as i always carried you all with me during my stay. please remain by my side during this never ending journey of life.

-sister kena achieng mbabazi

Tags: beading, congo refugees, home, kenya, kin initiative, tanzania, uganda

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